Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brief Interlude: Where ya been?

Yeah, I know, I have been MIA. Lots of traveling for work. Plus, I have become a civil service employee. I really need to continue my Germany story, but in the meantime, this is where I've been (ever):

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Germany, part 1: Frankfurt

What an amazing vacation!

We drove up to Philly and spent the weekend at my parent's place. Only a quick trip to Victory Brewing was worth mentioning - they have redone the whole place, and it looks MUCH better these days. Good times, good food, and good BEER!

Anyway, Dawn and I were in the plane to Germany Monday afternoon. We flew into Frankfurt, where we were scheduled to stay for three days. After scrambling about to figure out the trains, find our hotel, check in and feel the place out, it was time for a beer!

I, of course, HAD to do my "beer geek" thing...

The following day we did a day trip to Stuttgart in an attempt to research Dawn's family. She has already tracked back to 1540, and was attempting to go further. Unfortunately, it was pretty much fruitless, despite some really nice people trying to help us out.

The last day in Frankfurt, we did a Rhine river tour. Cold, rainy, but a very nice trip up the river. We hooked up with a cool Australian couple, and we joked the whole trip, snapping pics of churches and castles. Lots and lots of churches and castles. DAMN, there are lots of churches and castles in Germany! One of the many:

Anyway, by the time we got off the boat for a quick wine tasting, I was feeling rather ill. I believe I was done in by a salad I had in Stuttgart the day before. Either way, by the time I got back to the hotel, I was running a pretty good fever and couldn't go more than about 15 minutes between bathroom trips. I threw down some Tylenol and went to sleep at about 9PM, as Dawn left to grab some dinner and go to the historic area for a little shopping.

I awoke at 10:45, feeling MUCH better. Dawn was still not back. By 11PM, I figured she ran off with a young Frankfurter (pun intended) and I was going it alone... LOL. Actually, she got VERY lost, and wandered around for hours until she finally hopped a bus and got back to the main train station. She was a bit shaken, and had developed some huge blisters on her feet, but she was safe, thankfully.

More to come: Cologne!

BTW, if you aren't interested in all my prattling, click here for all the pics, good and bad.

Monday, June 30, 2008


I had been in Groton, CT for a week working, and had to attend a conference in Washington, D.C. I popped up at 3:30AM Tuesday to get my stuff together and drive to T.F. Green airport in Providence. I barely made my 6:10 flight. I shuffled down the aisle to my seat in the far port (left for you land-lubbers) corner. There were two rather attractive ladies seated in my row, and after everyone was seated I leaned my head against the bulkhead and fell asleep for the hour or so flight.

I awoke as we landed, and something didn't seem right in my world. People around me were, you know, kinda looking at me, and it was a bit too quiet. Whatever. I was the last person off the plane, and saw the lady who was next to me meet a bunch of people. They asked if she slept on the flight, and she replied "No, the man next to me was snoring so loud no one could sleep!"

I was, of course, fatally embarrassed. I called the wife and told her what happened. Level headed as usual, she told me to blow it off - "It's not like you'll ever see her again."

I make it to my conference, and just after the first break, guess who walks in and sits next to me. I'm horrified, and she's giggling. I apologized profusely. Dawn laughed and laughed when I told her...

That evening, I hooked up with my friend Aaron for a little beer tasting at his house. Good times! We all got a little buzzed and shot the shit into the evening. Aaron and his wife Kathy are great people, and excellent hosts. Visiting them makes any snoring-on-the-plane embarrassment worthwhile.

I flew home Wednesday to see my family... for a minute. Thursday Dawn took the kids to PA for her brother's wedding. I was to follow Friday after work. I got my Amtrak ticket Thursday evening and spent the rest of the night watching TV with the dog. Ah, quiet in my own home. Nice!

Friday was enough to drive a man insane. My uncle picked my up at 3PM to take me to the train station in Newport News. Traffic was insane, and I missed the train by about 10 minutes. DAMN! Working my cell phone for all it was worth, I got a rental from Hertz, but I had to be there by 6PM. With traffic, I JUST made it. 3 hours in a rush hour loop around Hampton Roads is NOT my idea of fun. Still, I was on my way.

I got all the way to the PA Turnpike without incident. Then, the semi in front of me lost a tire, which I promptly hit. Fortunately, no damage to the car. I was all safe at my father in law's house by Midnight.

The wedding was funny. I was one of three readers during the mass. All three of us muffed the reading horribly. The first guy, Todd, read completely the wrong passage from the bible. I got up there and started in the middle of my passage, then jumped to the beginning and read to where I started. I damn near burst into laughter at the pulpit. The third reader couldn't find her page, as I forgot to flip to it as I left. Then, as icing on the cake, I realized what I did and popped of an "OH SHIT" in the middle of church. I am SO going to hell.

Dawn was in the wedding party, and the girls handed out programs. All three looked absolutely beautiful, if I do say so myself. The reception was one of the best, EVER. Amazing spread at the Springfield Country Club. I can't begin to imagine what it cost. Simply amazing food, service, everything. Cheers to the new Mr. and Mrs. Koder!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


What a weekend. The girls had their dance recital. Finally.

It all started Thursday with dress rehearsal. Got to the opera house at 4PM, didn't leave until 10:30, and it wasn't really over yet - a few dances remained, but WE were done. On to Friday!

Friday, my Dad drives down for the big show(s). Off to the opera house we go, 6PM to 10:30. Saturday was the same, with my cousin's graduation party to attend prior. By the time all this is over, I am seeing Little Mermaids dancing in my head, and the songs are embedded in my head so deeply I want to dig up Walt Disney and throttle his corpse.

Sunday was nice and quiet. It was really cool to sit and drink coffee with my Dad on father's day, just talking and relaxing. The kids got us Skil Power Cutters. Fun stuff.

After Dad left, I was uploading the pictures from the recital, and was struck by the way the girls had grown over the last year. Comparing lat year's pics to this year was amazing, particularly Danielle. Last year she still looked like a little girl - this year not so much. I remembered that while I was watching her dance pointe, I thought she looked strange to me. Not a little girl. Not my little girl. A blossoming young lady. I felt very proud. And very sad.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Porn is dead.

Well, dead to me, anyway.

But Immy, the interweb pipes are chock full o' porn! Whatever could you mean?

Glad you asked. Let's talk about porn 20 years ago. Lots of stuff was still taboo, even after the alleged sexual revolution. My first exposure, as I imagine many a boy's was, consisted of a few scraps of Playboy pictures found by a friend. It was so cool, the girls were so hot, the pics so hard to come by - add to that the fear factor of getting caught, it was a helluva rush. The few pics we had were damn near treated as underground religious artifacts, hidden, cared for, reveled in. Just... wow, right?

The next stage was in the teen years - maybe some of us had even tasted a bit of the female fruit to some degree, but the porn factor was still huge. These were girls we (wet) dreamed about, perfect, but nigh untouchable. Sure you had a girlfriend that gave you a good grope or the occasional hummer, but THESE! THESE were women, dream women who would fulfill your wildest dreams. Oh, how tame those dreams were, in retrospect. Penthouse, Playboys, the occasional Oui stolen from someone's father's stash. Manna from heaven.

Then, the internet happened.

I remember my first experience. I was pretty much fresh out of the service, and the net was just starting to ramp up. I was using AOL dialup, and had a T-1 at work. An UNMONITORED T-1. I surfed for all sorts of porn. Redheads. Shaved. The ever-popular anal. All of these seemed exotic, taboo stuff. Then, all in one day, I saw two images I'll never forget. The first was a girl getting abused with a Louisville Slugger. HOLY JEEBUS! WHAT WAS THAT!?! Then, in a bizzare stroke of, uh, luck, I saw it. I'll never forget it. It was horrid. It was porn. It was evil.

It was tubgirl.

Don't know what it is? DO NOT GOOGLE IT. I WARNED YOU. (You will. You'll hate me for it.)

Yup, she was out there, even in 1997. I died a little that day, but a thirst was born. Each day, I saw more and more fucked up stuff. Bondage. S&M. Golden showers. Fucking Lemon Party. (AGAIN, DON'T GOOGLE IT. Yer warned.) Why? Why did I do it? I dunno. Morbid curiosity? The whole train wreck mentality? No clue.

I saw all kinds of porn along the way. This was not quick - it took years. Things that were taboo became passe. Anal? Whatever. Double penetration? Eh. Monster toys? Whatever. Gagging? On ONE cock? Amateur. Penis abuse, cigarette burns, the list goes on. Animals. Repulsive? HELL YEAH. Shocking? Hardly. It was all out there - gays, trannys, crossdressers, foot fetishes, food fetishes, you name it. Hell, most of the time it wasn't even erotic, it was a freak show you couldn't look away from, mixed in with piles and piles of vanilla sex - various positions, anal, oral, the "normal stuff", so to speak. Then, one day, it happened.


Yup. Nothing. To explain, I spend a lot of time on the road away from my wife. Therefore, I surf porn. It keeps me, um, honest. So there I was, in my hotel, laptop and cable internet, loads of porn. It did nothing. Not a chubber. Not a whisper from my pants. In the words of Jane's Addiction, Nothing's Shocking. It was..... boring.

Yup. Bored with porn. It happened. I tried to just "lay off" for awhile. No dice. It's over. There is nothing I can view that will elicit an erotic reaction. Not on the internet, anyway. The love (lust?) affair is over, fuck the honeymoon. Game, set, match. I'm ruined. It's like I need actual, PHYSICAL CONTACT now!!! From my SPOUSE! Just to get OFF! What a freak I have become...

Saturday, June 7, 2008


So it looks like Obama will be the Democrat's choice for '08. I am a Republican at heart, but try to always give all the candidates a fair look. I went to Obama's website to see what this guy is all about.

I'm not impressed.

First, props where they are due. The guy is clearly charismatic, likable and a very good speaker. However, I think that is where the Obamania comes from, because beneath that I see little substance. It seem to me that most of his pitch is "change", "hope" and rah-rah. When you start to dig into his ideas and policies, one thing becomes clear - he wants to tax us out of whatever ails us. Every issue I read about talked about more taxes, primarily to the "rich". Democrats always seem to talk about this huge number of "rich" people, and how they seem to be getting away with financial (or, at least, tax) murder. Who are these people?

Oh shit, it's me!

Depending on which person you listen to, if you make about $100k AGI you're "rich". WHAT?!? No, I'm not there yet, but I'm getting dangerously close. Am I rich? I don't think I'm bad off at all, but I think very few would say I'm rich. Aside from that, why should people with higher incomes pay even more taxes? The top 10% of earners pay 70% of taxes, and the top 50% pay almost 97%!

Now, I know it's not all that simple, but I do think it's an important fact. Again, I'm not "rich" (or am I?) but here is an example:

I contribute to a 401k, and, of course, pay my taxes (income and payroll) just like anyone else. Because I pretty much know that SS is fucked, I see it as money wasted (I will likely not see much ROI) and consider my 401k a "self imposed retirement tax", so to speak. That is, since I know that SS is fucked I am required, as a fiscally responsible person, to save for myself.

All told, after taxes and saving, I take home about 50% of my check, and that does not include health insurance payments. Sounds pretty close to confiscatory to me.

Here's the kicker.

He wants to increase spending on social programs, and cut taxes to "average Americans" (whoever that is). How can you do that? Obamagic? Either that, or the tax increase to the rich folks is going to be HUGE.

All that said, when I see an Obama who basically says he’ll tax me even more, I get a bit antsy, particularly when it’s for providing child care and the like, which I feel the federal government has no business in.

I'm not really a McCain fan, either, but once again I'm picking the lesser of two evils, IMO. I'm not buying the hype, the Obamania, and don't trust Obamagic. Ya know, if the Libertarians weren't so wing-nutty, I just might jump ship on the GOP. And that hurts me.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yard Sale

So my lovely wife decided we should have a yard sale. Yay me.

We spent a good week or so combing through our house, finding stuff we didn't use/want/need/care about. It all got piled into the garage, and at 7AM I was out there covering my driveway with stuff. The early birds showed up about 7:30, since we advertised 8AM. After the initial rush, things slowed considerably, and by 9:30 we were chilling in the shade on a couple of chairs, hoping SOMEONE would happen by and buy some of this shit. While sipping on a glass of lemonade my girls had been hawking (I get a discount - 50%! Nice, since I paid for all the supplies and set the damn stand up.) my mind wandered a bit, and three things occurred to me:

  1. It looks a lot like my house threw up into my driveway.
  2. I really don't like people picking through my shit.
  3. What lay before me was an interesting little snapshot of my life.
Focusing on #3, it really was a little glimpse into my last 7 years or so. Scads of computer parts and other electronic gadgets in varying levels of obsolescence. A smattering of books I didn't much like. Toys, books and clothes from when the kids were younger. Furniture and crap that all seemed so important at some point, now with a little colored circle with a price not 1/10th of what we paid. Cassette tapes from our teen years - metal, punk and rock from me, dance and rap from my wife. VHS movies the girls watched so often I wanted to stab my eyes out, now cast to the curb in favor of Sponge Bob and the evil Hannah Montana.

In some small way, it was fun to look back, and sad to see some stuff go, like books I read over and over to the girls years ago. It also puts into perspective a bit how time changes the value of the crap we surround ourselves with. At one time, I'd have punched someone in the eye for trying to make off with my beloved Suicidal Tendencies tapes, now I find myself telling my neighbor "hell, I'll give ya 11 for a buck". The stuffed fish my daughter could not sleep without for 2 years goes for a quarter, and she giggles with glee over the sudden windfall. I wanted this stuff so bad at one point, now I can't wait to get rid of it. What will I discard in 5 years that looks important today?

In the meantime, can I interest anyone in this friggin' fish tank setup? C'mon, I'll even deliver...

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Well, not really. Busy is more like it.

After 2 glorious weeks working in CT, I finally made it home. I won't bore you with the trials and tribulations of air travel in the US these days, but suffice to say that frustration mounts quickly. I was stranded in D.C. (Reagan) for several hours, which pretty much sucked. However, between text messages from my wife and calls from my Dad, I did have the rare opportunity to people watch for a bit.

We Americans are an amusing bunch, really. The mix looks funny as it babbles by my seat, and it takes on a life of it's own, a single being ebbing and flowing by me. Soldiers looking smart and neat, self absorbed corporate types who look like they stepped out of a Brooks Brothers catalog yammering into cell phones, hippie types meandering by in tie dyes. Folks in what appears to be pajamas, which is appropriate, because they look lost, like they just rolled out of bed, gripping a ticket like it is a sacred scroll, checking and rechecking their flight info as if it might change when they are not looking. Kids (shit, now I'm addressing teenagers as kids - old old old), clearly on some sort of group trip, camping out on the floor while they giggle, eat and play games to while the time away. Urgency and boredom all mixed into a basic roux, then dashes of confusion and anger added for flavor, backed with a gelling, flowing mass of a body. Interesting.

Anyway, you KNEW you wouldn't get away without a rant. Here we go...

So I'm sitting there, minding my own beeswax, listening to my phone (as in MP3s - I love that my phone plays MP3s). I was a bit rushed getting to the airport, so I'm still wearing my titanium toed safety boots (which also completely rock - check them out). So some guy comes buzzing by and trips on my foot. He looks at me all butthurt and says something profane about ME watching where I was going. I couldn't help but laugh. I was stationary, you douche. No need to get all pissed at me, you clumsy, pink pop-collar wearing clown (who the hell pops their collar anymore?) I'm sure it hurt and all, as he was wearing flip-flops. And so begins my rant...

Flip-flops. What the fuck, people? When, exactly, did these beachwear staples become appropriate footwear for everyday use? As I sat in the airport, I was appalled at how many people, particularly men, were wearing these things. STOP IT. PLEASE.

I'm sure you find them comfy, but dammit they are not proper footwear. First, men's feet in general are not pretty things. I have no desire to see your gross, cracked heels or your busted assed toenails. I don't wear a Speedo because I know a fat, hairy white guy wearing one is unattractive, and I am considerate to my fellow humans.

Second, they do not protect your feet from anything. An airport, for example, has scads of things to stub your toe on, and a bevy of people who can easily stomp your toe inadvertently. Wear them if you want, I guess, but don't get all pissed if you get hurt. Plus, they are not sturdy, and will break on you at the least convenient moment, leaving you shoeless (or, more shoeless, or something).

Finally, they make you look ridiculous. Seriously. I saw a guy wearing a decent summer suit and fucking flip-flops. What is that? Business casual? No, business asinine. The only ones who don't look retarded are the guys sporting surf shorts and a tee shirt, calling everyone "brah".

Anyway, a final note - I dislike sandals on men, and HATE flip-flops, but the one that really gets me is SANDALS OR FLIP-FLOPS WITH SOCKS. You. Fucking. Dolt. If it's cold enough for socks with your sandals, then it's shoe-time. Nothing.... NOTHING! Looks more retarded.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Action Packed Weekend

What a crazy weekend... lots of things going on!

First, I attended a friend's retirement Saturday. Lots of fun and homebrew, good food and good people.

Then, I get home in time to watch my beloved Flyers beat Montreal, sending them to a PA showdown with Pittsburgh. The Battle of Pennsylvania - it's ON! Now it gets weird...

My wife calls my attention to a car in our court. Acting kinda funny... circling a few times, pointing at my neighbor's house, backing up, circling again... strange. It's 10PM. I go to check it out, but it appears he's leaving. I walk outside and lean against my truck. The car does a U-turn and parks at the end of my street. The driver gets out and walks to my neighbor's house. He looks nervous. I watch him - he clearly does not see me. He starts up my neighbor's driveway, and stops next to their car, kinda doodling on the windshield with his finger (or something). I decide this is enough.

I approach him. He does not notice me until I am about 10 feet from him. I ask what he's doing.


I ask if I can help him. "No." I ask again what he is doing, and if there is a problem. "No." I ask who he is looking for. No answer. I ask why he doesn't knock on the door, if he's looking for someone. No answer. I tell him he's on private property. He says "Fine, I'll move." and walks into the street. I follow, and tell him I'll just hang out with him, since it's a public place. He is really getting agitated.

After a few more verbal exchanges, I go to my neighbor's door and knock. The stranger starts walking quickly to his car and drives off. Not quite gone though, he passes the court twice more.

By now my wife has alerted the whole street, and everyone is coming outside.


Anyway, Sunday we got free tickets to the local AAA team baseball game. Minor league ball is fun to watch! Hot and sunny. The home team loses a squeaker. Still, good times.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Tornadoes touched down pretty close to home yesterday - too close for my friend Kyle. Here are some pictures from the local news station. Crazy stuff - Kyle's house is about a block from the historic houses in Driver that were demolished. I have not heard from him - hope he is OK. His house was under contract to be sold, hopefully everything is intact. From the pics I saw it didn't go directly into his neighborhood.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


My house is being invaded by eleven little screaming girls right now, ages range from 7-9. My daughter is having a sleepover party. The only one more scared than me at the moment is the dog.

Some of these kids need a smack on the ass, and some of these parents need a punch in the mouth. I don't feel I need to elaborate, but suffice to say that a kid of this age should know how to act in public and as a guest in someone's house. Yes, I know how rambunctious kids can get, but damn, how about some basic manners?

I have holed up in my bedroom, watching my Philadelphia Flyers whoop up on some Habs ass! LET'S GO FLYERS!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Yesterday, we mourned the untimely demise of my youngest daughter's hamster. Little bugger lasted just short of a year. Broke her little 7 year old heart. I told her the story of how I had a similar situation when I was her age and my pet mouse died, but it didn't help too much, so I reverted to an old standby - heaven. Got me thinking (as many fairly mundane life events are wont to do...)

I'm a cultural Roman Catholic / agnostic. What the hell does that mean? Well, I'm agnostic in regards to the existence of a creator, but culturally I was raised Roman Catholic and abide by most of it's traditional celebrations. Mocking those with faith seems to be acceptable these days - wether it be a Muslim or a Christian or Jew or what have you. Religious whack jobs and rich televangelist shills have sullied the reputation of the multitude of faith based organizations and the good work they do, from the "evil terroristic Muslims" to the "pedophile priests". I can understand some of the mockery, but to slam an entire group for the acts of a small number of members is simply not fair.

I personally don't care what a person believes, if it somehow makes them a better person (and/or keeps them from killing me) then I'm all for it. Worship a flying marmot with a rainbow mohawk for all I care, if that gets you through the day. As long as your beliefs aren't causing others harm, do it up.

Anyway, I was really torn - should I pitch the idea of heaven, something I don't completely believe in, to my child?

Yes. I did it, and I don't regret it. Why? Because the concept gave her comfort. I feel the same way about anyone who is faced with death (their own impending demise or someone they care about). If it brings comfort, why not? It would really take a cold hearted soul to look a terminal cancer patient in the eye and mock them for believing in an afterlife - even if they thought they would be meeting the aforementioned marmot there. Besides, how the hell would you know?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Subprime woes

So, according to our friends at CNN, more than 70% of subprime borrowers are not getting the "help" they need. I'm trying REALLY hard to care. Really.

This bailout thing has me pretty steamed. So we, as taxpayers, get to foot not only the bill for the crooked corporations that designed these little money mill loans destined for failure by milking people who they knew were a poor financial risk, we also get to "help" the poor, hapless borrower who knowingly accepted the terms of a crazy, too good to be true loan they knew they couldn't afford in the first place.

What puts the icing on the cake for me is that the bulk of the nation - those of us who are responsible people who work every day and pay our bills on time, and live reasonable lives within our means - we're the ones who pay AND get nothing in return. Many of these loans will go into default, then the owners will declare bankruptcy and dance away from their financial responsibilities. What is the repercussion for their poor behavior? Pretty much nothing. They get a "do-over", and, with good behavior, in a few years they will have the same, clean credit report (possibly better) that the people who end up paying for their mess. It's grasshopper/ant in real life, only the humorous "reverse" story so popular in e-mail chains...

Yes, I know, declaring bankruptcy can be painful - but it SHOULD be painful. Most stupidity should be.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Me? Blogging?

Well, I went and did it. I said I wouldn't, but I did - a blog. Why? No idea, really. My friend Aaron somehow inspired me, and I have no idea how. He directed me to his blog, and the next thing you know I'm writing this.

Whatever. So I guess I'm going to poke around this thing and get a feel, start filling in the blanks, so to speak. Cheers!